Welcome author Katherine Wynter to the blog, with her new book, BLACKOUT!
Zombies walk among us. Look like us. Talk like us.
When Chicago scientist Bryan Southworth found the secret to eternal life through nanocell technology, he didn’t know it’d come with a cost: death. The process of Reanimation requires physical death for bio-synthetic cellular replication to take hold, but maintaining eternal life depends on timely injections of fresh cells to replace those used. Should a patient’s supply run too low, the computer chip installed at the base of the neck deactivates consciousness, freeing up the body to seek out new cells any way necessary.
Mikal Edmonds is your average zombie – or Reanimated Citizen as they prefer to be called – on his first date in over a decade when an attack by the religious terrorist group calling themselves the Naturalists changes everything. Now the target of a zealot’s fervor, Mikal’s willpower is tested as he confronts his past and tries to avoid the one thing he fears above all else: a blackout.
He scanned the darkened bar, his gaze passing quickly over worn tables and chairs, couples whispering in darkened booths, drunks playing virtual pool with neon balls projected on an old-style wooden table, and the ever present football game covering the back wall with brightly colored violence but no sound. Life had changed dramatically over the many years since his Reanimation, but a bar was still a bar and people were still people. Under normal circumstances neither interested him.
Few things did.
Blind date. Never should have let them talk me into it.
He spotted her sitting at the bar – right where Jose had promised she’d be – and froze. That hair, strawberry blonde, reached in waves past her shoulders, and her slender silhouette seemed as familiar to him as his own breath. Emily? In his mind, he was sitting at a different bar, and her blue eyes sparkled at a joke of his, something about politics though he didn’t remember what exactly. They had been happy then. Before. No. If Emily were still alive, she’d have to be over a hundred years old; this wasn’t Emily. She had moved on. Probably remarried with children and grandchildren by now.
He shook his head, banishing the unwanted memories, and slid onto an empty bar stool next to the girl who could not possibly be his former wife. How old could this new girl be, anyway? Early twenties? Twenty-five, tops. It didn’t matter. With the potential for surgery and Reanimation, apparent age wasn’t an accurate guide anymore.
She wore a Parisian-Oriental fusion dress which hugged her just enough to be alluring yet showed no more than a small taste of ivory skin and knee-high black leather boots. She was attractive, he was forced to admit. Especially with those green eyes. Green, not blue, he reminded himself. Emily’s eyes had been blue.
“Mikal, I presume,” she took a delicate sip of her pink cocktail then pressed a series of buttons on the touch screen built into the surface of the bar. The noise level faded to a hum as the environmental sensors kicked in, shielding them from their surroundings. He rubbed his sweaty palms on his jeans. He could have changed it back, but explaining why might be awkward. “I expected you to be…older.”
He grunted and leaned away. Even with six inches of space separating them, the heat of her body warmed the chill that never left his skin. “I am older.”
A pink flush spread across her cheeks to the tips of her ears as she looked away.
The gesture seemed quaintly sweet. Almost antiquated. Maybe the date hadn’t been such a bad idea after all.
He sat up a little straighter and tapped the touchscreen twice. “Scotch on the rocks,” he said when the bartender appeared inside the controlled environment. Mikal pricked his finger on the scanner set into the bar and opened his tab. As the drink was prepared, the computer system scanned his manufactured genetic code and registered the purchase to his company account. A yellow light flashed on the scanner, completing the transaction.
“Fucking zombie freaks,” the balding bartender muttered but he still set the scotch down before he disappeared into the hazy background.
“I’m…I’m Rose,” she extended her hand, which he took, her fingers like feathers, steel feathers, against his clammy grip ”It’s such a pleasure to meet you, you have no idea.”
“Same here.” He tried to smile, curling his lips up and baring his teeth. Rose didn’t run, so it probably worked.
He took a long pull of the scotch, savoring the line of fire that trailed down his throat and settled in his stomach. A wave of lightheadedness moved through him, relaxing his muscles and bringing a small sigh to his lips as he settled onto the stool. The sensation faded quickly, however, as the tension returned in a rush. Stuck sober just when I need help the most. Not bothering to lower the controls this time, Mikal gestured for another round and waited for it to appear.
She arched one eyebrow.
Shit. I need to say something.
“Have you been waiting long?” Mikal asked, his stomach knotting as soon as the words passed his throat. What a stupid question to ask. He ran his hand awkwardly through his hair.
“No, not long.” She lifted her glass slightly: “This is my first.” The silken material of her dress parted briefly when she uncrossed and then re-crossed her legs.
He swallowed, hard. The movement had bared her smooth, defined legs along the line of the slit, exposing a tantalizing expanse of thigh for the briefest of moments. He ran his hand though his hair again. “Can I get you another?”
She laughed, a sound like the ringing of small bells, and tossed back the rest of her drink. “I’d like that.”
Mikal signaled for the bartender again, and the conversation stalled while they waited for the drinks to appear. He tried to find something appropriate or suave or at least inoffensive to say, but the words just wouldn’t form in his head much less make their way past his lips. What do girls in this decade like? The only ones he saw were usually naked and dancing on a table at the club where he worked. Do I talk about the weather? Politics? Shopping? Please not shopping.
The empty glasses disappeared and a moment later there were two fresh drinks on the bar next to them. Rose picked up the glass, wrapping her slender fingers around the stem, and sipped. “So, Mikal, my friend tells me that you work at NightWatch. How’s that?”
So it was work then. He shrugged, relieved to be on safe ground. “It’s a job. Had worse – not many people want to employ some like me.”
“You mean a zombie?”
“I used to hate that word but anymore…I guess I’m getting more tolerant as I age.”
Her eyes lit up. “You don’t look a day over thirty-two.”
“Pretty spry for the oldest man alive, huh. Maybe next time I’ll bring a cane.”
She laid a hand gently on his wrist. “Next time?”
Warmth flooded through his hand. Life. She hummed with it, vibrated joy and youth and everything he’d missed by hiding himself away the past few decades. Mikal didn’t move away from her touch. “I’m boring and old. Tell me about yourself. Do you have a job?”
Small lines tightened around the corners of her eyes, only to vanish a moment later. The change was so brief he almost missed it.
“Not right now. The economy, you know. I studied cellular bionics at the university before I had to drop out. Now, without a degree, there aren’t many options for a girl like me.”
“A girl like you?” What was he missing? He couldn’t imagine her having trouble finding work. Problem was, the more desperate people became the more depraved their tastes. He studied the angles of her face again. Had he seen her at NightWatch? He clenched and unclenched his fist. She deserved better than that.
She sipped her cocktail and shrugged delicately.
Can I tell her she’s too beautiful to have trouble finding work? Would she think it flattering or creepy this early in the evening? Girls liked compliments. That couldn’t have changed. Mikal opened his mouth to speak.
That’s when he heard it.
A sound, nothing more than a slight ringing, something that shouldn’t have been able to get through the environmental sensors, pulled his attention. First one and then another shadow flitted across the blurred edges of his vision.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, but he gestured for her to be quiet.
The time for civility had ended. No one should have been that close besides the bartender, and they had already received their drinks.
Mikal tapped the touchpad twice; the environmental controls lowered in response. What he saw didn’t make sense. Half of the bar’s hundred-odd patrons drank contentedly, oblivious to their surroundings.
The other half ran for their lives.
One woman tripped in the mad rush for the front doors, knocking over a chair on her way down as a younger man stepped on her back, using her to vault himself up and over her. Three guys in football jerseys each grabbed one of the antique wooden cue sticks off the wall and used it to shove an older man aside, sending pale ale flying up into the air and startling a couple out of their environmental sensors.
A girl screamed.
A lone man with sunken, bloodshot eyes, loomed in the center of the bar, his balding head glistening from sweat. The jacket of his camo-green duster parted momentarily as he raised his arm, revealing a series of clear tubes filled with a greenish liquid strapped to his chest. Thin wires connected the tops of the tubes.
His left hand rested on what had to be a trigger.
“…deserve to die. You are abominations of existence, a blight on the sight of the God who had given you breath and life. Death is sacred and pure, feared only by those certain of their own damnation. Prepare to face His judgment, monsters, and know the wrath of God!”
Instinct took over. Mikal stood, hooked Rose around the waist, and pulled her over the bar with him.
I’m going to die. His shoulders slammed into the hard concrete floor as shattered glass fell around him like rain. He covered her with his body. Maybe this death will be the last.
The world exploded around them.
Katherine Wynter is a fantasy/horror/steampunk author of novels and short stories. Her debut novel Blackout is being rereleased by Under the Moon, an imprint of Final Sword Productions, in April 2014. Her second novel, Reaper Legacy, is due out later this year.
Katherine fell in love with the horror and fantasy genres at a young age, hiding in libraries whenever she had the chance and reading till they made her leave – usually by throwing her book out the door so she was forced to follow. When she was old enough for an allowance, she spent it exclusively at bookstores and began building her own library which has grown and been donated only to grow again like a bookish vestigial tail. Although she once planned a career in genetic engineering so she could create her own time traveling dragon, she abandoned this profession when it became clear that sometimes the best science lives only in the imagination of readers. (Okay, her friends pointing out that said dragon, should she create it, would probably just end up having her for lunch instead of letting her ride its back may have also influenced that decision.)
On a less crunchy note, Katherine lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and three insane cats of doom and destruction. She’s an avid reader, hiker, and world traveler. Nothing makes her day more than taking off for somewhere new and getting to experience different cultures and ways of life (probably why she spent two years with the Peace Corps serving in Kazakhstan).
She’s always happy to answer questions or hear from readers. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website http://www.katherinewynter.com
As part of Melissa Snark’s Halloween blog roundup, I’ve contributed a piece on psychic vampires, and she’ll feature a review of LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME later in the week. Have you ever noticed that just being in the presence of some people leaves you feeling like a wring-out dishcloth? Perhaps you’ve encountered a psychic vampire.
Please stop by and learn how to protect yourself from people who might suck your energy dry– we need all the life force we can get!
Coming June 2013 from Raw Dog Screaming Press
Cover Art by Brad Vetter
Preston and Katy face a new darkness….
Sometimes a battle between good and evil doesn’t look much like the ones they show in movies. The good guys don’t always wear white, and they don’t always walk away with the win.
And sometimes you’re better off with the devil you know.
The last time Preston went down to the crossroads, his best friend died and he nearly lost his brother. But Old Scratch doesn’t take kindly to fools, especially not those who come knocking at his front door. And before all is said and done, he’s going to teach Preston a thing or two about what it really means to sacrifice.
Read the first 100 pages of The Revelations of Preston Black – http://jasonjackmiller.blogspot.com/p/the-revelations-of-preston-black.html
Pre-order The Revelations of Preston Black at Raw Dog Screaming Press – http://www.rawdogscreaming.com/books/the-revelations-of-preston-black.html
Escape into Fantasyland (pun intended)
By Beth Ann Masarik
Thank you for having me on the blog today! I was asked to write about fantasy as an escape for readers, which is how I came up with the title .
I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I want to escape reality, I usually pick up a book that has some kind of fantasy in it. I don’t know why, I guess because it’s all that magic and make-believe stuff that gets put in it that draws me in. I love the flexibility that fantasy has with world building, as opposed to mainstream genres. With fantasy, the possibilities are endless.
I’ve loved fantasy ever since I was introduced to the Harry Potter books, which I think is what really sparked my interest in writing. Oh, I was writing long before I read them, but that was what set it in stone for me. I remember saying, “I want to be a best seller like JK Rowling.” Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but if everyone goes out and buys my books and short stories, that might actually happen *wink wink*.
So for me, the appeal of fantasy comes with sometimes just wanting to escape reality, and it’s just a lot of fun to write and role play in.
Hades is hell-bent on taking over the world, but in order to do so, he has to remove his nemesis, Gaia from power. But one thing stands in the way and she goes by the name of Selene.
Cue Damien, son of Hades and Persephone. He happens to be in love with Selene, and will stop at nothing to make sure hat she is safe even though their love is forbidden. Furious with his son’s treachery, Hades tricks Damien into killing the only woman that he has ever loved. He does so by telling Damien that he will spend the rest of his eternal life in the Fields of Asphodel if he does not prove his loyalty. Torn between his un-beating heart and his family, Damien does the only thing a true demon prince knows how: killing those closest to him.
Will Damien follow through with his father’s evil scheme? Or will he be banished to the Fields of Asphodel for his treachery?
About the short stories:
The short stories are meant to get your feet wet and ready for the re-debut of the upcoming saga titled The World Among Us. The World Among Us was originally released in 2011 with Otherworld Publications. Unfortunately, Otherworld closed its doors last year, and Beth had to find a new publisher. Fortunately, she was offered a contract with Hydra Publications, and the titles that were released with Otherworld have been/are being revised and revamped and re-released!
Leon Greene is accused of murdering his best friend, Jason Aysel, and the world wants to know if he really did it. Cue Elise Stevenson, the top news reporter for the Daily Gazette who gets the scoop. Will Leon tell her the truth and his motives behind the murder?
**This is a short story based off the novel, The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness. This was originally published by Otherworld Publications in 2011 and in the Augnowrimo anthology. It has been edited and revised and now published by Hydra publications.
About Hell Bound (a T.W.A.U. prequel #2)
After impressing her boss with her interview with werewolf, Leon Greene, Elise is Hell Bound to an interview with the Lord of the Underworld himself. Mr. Murphy wants her to find the dirty scoop on Hades himself, and foil his plot to take over the world. Will she survive the clutches of Hell?
*this is a short story based off the soon to be released novel, The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness. Hell Bound has never been released!
About Hell’s Captive
As if interviewing Hades himself wasn’t enough, Elise gets sucked into doing an interview with his son, Prince Damien. It turns out that the Prince of Darkness has a few tricks up his sleeve himself, and is head over heels for the girl he murdered. Will Elise uncover the Prince of Darkness’s deepest, darkest secrets?
About Moon Spirit
Raul Blackoak’s world is tossed upside down one evening when he stumbles upon a damsel in distress. What he wasn’t expecting was that his life would be changed forever by her. Because he risks his own life to save her, he is caught between two worlds; the world to which he belongs, and the human world. Will he be able to balance being in both worlds? Or will he have to give up one to be happily ever after in the other?
***this is the revised and edited edition. Moon Spirit was originally published by Otherworld Publications in 2011, and is now represented by Hydra Publications.
About Beth Ann Masarik
Beth Ann Masarik is a Young Adult author and writer, indie publisher, and youth advocate. She writes Young Adult fantasy and urban fantasy novels that are mostly about forbidden romance and have some sort of magical creatures in them. Her debut novel, The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness was first published with Otherworld Publications. Unfortunately, OWP closed on December 31, 2012, and the book is no longer available. However, she has signed with Hydra Publications, and it will be released sometime in 2013. You can visit her author website at www.bethannmasarik.com and the series website at http://www.theworldamongussaga.com for more details on my publishing adventures.
As a youth advocate, she, along with her new husband, is one of the adult coordinators of the Our Lady of Fatima youth group that is supported by the current pastor and the parents of the kids in the group.
In addition to writing, she also publishes a bi-monthly e-zine called Literary Lunes Magazine. It is offered as a free black and white e-copy and also offers a low-cost full colored paperback copy of each issue. For more information, please visit the magazine website at www.literarylunespublications.com
Welcome, Lee Allen Howard, whose newest book is out May 15! From one review: “it’s like the mutant stepchild of Carl Hiaasen and Stephen King…”
DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen Howard
Release date: May 15, 2013
Front cover art by Neil Jackson
Kennet Singleton cremates the dead… and then they speak: “Avenge us!”
Nineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton lives with his invalid mother in a personal care facility, but he wants out. He operates the crematory at the local funeral home, where he discovers he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates–by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.
He thinks his ability is no big deal since his customers are already dead. But when his perception differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers. To save the residents and avenge the dead, Kennet must bring the killers to justice.
Lee Allen Howard writes horror, dark fantasy, and supernatural crime. He’s been a professional writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction since 1985. His publications include The Sixth Seed, Desperate Spirits, Night Monsters, “Mama Said,” “Stray,” and DEATH PERCEPTION, available in various formats at http://leeallenhoward.com.
You can keep in touch with Lee on his Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lee-Allen-Howard-author/117844011639457. Follow him on Twitter @LeeAllenHoward.
Find out more:
“Dastardly devious, cleverly conceived, and just a whole lot of fun to read, DEATH PERCEPTION is Lee Allen Howard on fire and at his finest. Rife with winsome weirdness, it’s like the mutant stepchild of Carl Hiaasen and Stephen King, mixing a truly unique paranormal coming-of-age story with a quirky cast of offbeat noir characters into a novel that’s simply unforgettable… and hilariously original. A supernatural crime story, blazing with creative intrigue… don’t miss it.”
–Michael Arnzen, author of Play Dead
“Lee Allen Howard’s DEATH PERCEPTION is a red hot union of Gothic crime thriller and grim humor that burns with supernatural tension. Beneath the sickly sweet scent of caramelized sugar lies the wildly entertaining tale of a man who delivers justice to the dead while fanning the fires of the living. Ever hear the expression, ‘laughing in a morgue’? DEATH PERCEPTION feels just like that. Howard has a gift for crafting eccentric characters and clever plots. This is dark fun at its best.”
–Jason Jack Miller, author of The Devil and Preston Black and Hellbender
“DEATH PERCEPTION has officially made me envious of Lee Allen Howard. It sings like a choir of angels, yet weeps like a ghost in winter. Everyone should have this in their collection.”
–Trent Zelazny, author of To Sleep Gently and Butterfly Potion
This week’s snippet goes back to one of the elf queen’s human friends, Lane Donatelli. For those who’ve read the YA Clan Elves series, you’ll remember Lane is a former foster-care child who compensates for his anxiety with food, especially cupcakes, and he’s a master computer whiz.
But he also needs to pay his bills:
Lane retreated to the Cave, his carefully-constructed getaway inside the apartment, four computers ensconced in a space enclosed by walls built from an assortment of cardboard boxes, crates and storage bins. Once upon a time, his whole life had been centered within these artificial walls, very much like Crispy had constructed his own “safe” place, his agoraphobia keeping him inside the apartment until his therapist—and a generous helping of elven magic—had invited him back into the world.
Lane’s egress into the greater world had taken a different form. Plopping down in his well-padded manager’s chair, he noted the blinking icon that indicated he had email waiting for him. Clicking on it, he revealed seven notes from fans new to his recently-published digital book, The Elf Princess.
He’d taken the adventure he’d shared with Jelani, Astan and the others, and written a thinly-disguised version of the story, careful to set it near Butte instead of Missoula, to protect the clan’s existence in the Montana woods. The manuscript had been rejected by a dozen agents as “too outlandish,” proving to Lane that truth was indeed stranger than fiction. Finally, he’d tapped one of his gamer buddies online, they’d whipped the manuscript into shape for e-publishing, and he’d published it himself.
His gamer friends spread the word, and as they were a widely-diverse group, Lane had sold a good number of copies already, a fan base developing almost without his effort.
“Now if I can only figure out how to leverage this into a fully-paid appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con…”
THE ELF GUARDIAN is the fourth book in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, available at Dragonfly Publishing and at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, at Apple ITunes and most other online outlets. Find out more about the series at the tab above or at the home of the Clan Elves online.
Find more delicious low-calorie snippets at Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday today!
Tags: author, Bitterroot, book, Clan Elves, Dragonfly, Dragonfly Publishing, elf, Elf Queen, elves, fantasy, Lyndi Alexander, publishing, Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday, SFFS, snippet, supernatural, The Elf Child, The Elf Guardian, writer, writing, YA
We’re celebrating the end of the world! We being several other Hydra Publications authors and myself–and we’re giving away free books and other goodies on December 21. How can you get in on all this goodness, you ask?
Enter the contest.
And you’ve only got a week to do it.
Prizes include ebooks of DECEPTION PEAK by Dianne Lynn Gardner, INTO THE SPIRAL by Erin Danzer, LEGEND OF THE OCEINA DRAGON and BATTLEFIELD by J.F. Jenkins, EPHEMERAS and EXHALE by Kendall Grey, THE JEALOUSY GLASS and THE UNIVERSAL MIRROR from Gwen Perkins, and LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME from me. More are being added as more people enter, so pass it on to your friends and be eligible for even more prizes!
For more information, see the End of the World Giveaway page.
(And if the world doesn’t end, you’ll definitely need something to read over Christmas break, right? What have you got to lose?)
Growing up I loved all forms of escapism. Film, books, television. It was all the same to me. And I always, given my background, wanted to be rescued, but as I got older I found the victim role to be less appealing, and I wanted a bad ass heroine to be. And I found myself, whenever I wrote, casting the hero as my favorite actor (high school it was Scott Bakula, how I loved Quantum Leap), and me as the heroine. That still true today.
In my most recent release, GLADIATOR, I chose Daniel Craig. To be honest most times I choose Daniel Craig. He’s such a brute force and has this bad ass quality that won me over in Casino Royale and his tender side flashed a bit in that film too. Of course an easy pick would have been Russell Crowe. And at one point I might have picked him, but these days it’s all about Daniel.
GLADIATOR tells the tale of Tristan Shane, a man who in an effort to avoid fighting loses his family in a swift act of brutality and is enslaved and forced to fight to the death for the mob’s and the new regime’s pleasure. Until one night the queen comes to him and demands the unthinkable, murder her innocent sister for fear she is the Healer prophesized believed to be sent to usher in a new world of equality and healing.
Tristan was a great hero to write about. His heart twisted and jaded, the Healer changes everything for him, and for the first time since the loss of his family he begins to believe their might be hope for him. To say much more would be to give away what was so much fun to write about him. And seeing Daniel Craig as this character was easy for me. I was on so much caffeine while penning this sometimes I forget what writing some passages were like. But I remember thinking I hope people really like this story. But then, don’t all authors feel that way?
My heroes now are less soft and have more of a world weariness to them. And my heroines my have been through hell, but they don’t feel sorry for themselves and maybe have an edge all their own. I hope you pick up GLADIATOR. It’s my favorite book I’ve written to date. It’s out now. And the second book, ORACLE, is targeted for March of next year. But that’s another blog.
For more information:
Looking forward to hosting Amy McCorkle (Monday), R.S. Hunter (Tuesday, Dianne Gardner AND Beth Ann Masarik on Wednesday, Missy Goodman (Thursday), Erin Danzer (Friday) and Rachel Hunter (Saturday). Please stop by every day and check out their books and personal stories, leave comments, let them know how much we all appreciate writers.
I will then be featured on Monday at the blog home of Tony Acree, Tuesday with Tricia Ballad, Wednesday at Melissa Goodman’s, Friday with Michael Turner and Saturday with James Peercy. So you’ll get to learn a little bit more about me and how LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME came to be created and published. This is a small publishing house, but it’s growing by leaps and bounds, publishing a lot of fantasy and paranormal romance-type books, many of which had been on the Amazon top 100 lists. Don’t miss your chance!
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Tags: Amy McCorkle, author, Beth Ann Masarik, book, Dianne Gardner, Erin Danzer, fantasy, Hydra Publications, James Peercy, Kill Me, Kiss Me, Love me, Lyndi Alexander, Michael Turner, Missy Goodman, publishing, R.S. Hunter, Rachel Hunter, supernatural, Tony Acree, Tricia Ballad, Uncategorized, writing
Check this out… Five stars and a great review. Hope it’s the first of many! 🙂